Z sticks, causes gouges

I have been carving stl files for a while now, but all of a sudden, the Z axis “sticks” and jerks as it is carving downwards, causing gouges to appear in my carve. I can watch and see the jerk happen as it goes down. Even if I raise the cut path up so that it isn’t cutting wood, I can still see the stick and jerk.

I have read other posts and it seems everyone suggests it has to do with the v wheels on the gantry, but mine are all tight and it still persists. The metal rails that the router assembly slides up and down on, are clean with no debris. Same goes for the guide screw. I’m at a loss.

I was carving a wavy flag so the transitions are supposed to be all smooth, and as you can see, there are obvious spots where the router sticks, jerks, and plunges down, creating that gouge.